Category Archives: Hackaday Columns

Biasing That Transistor: The Emitter Follower

We were musing upon the relative paucity of education with respect to the fundamentals of electronic circuitry with discrete semiconductors, so we thought we’d do something about it. So far we’ve taken a look at the basics of transistor biasing through the common emitter amplifier, then introduced a less common configuration, the common base amplifier. There is a third transistor amplifier configuration, as you might expect for a device that has three terminals: the so-called Common Collector amplifier. You might also know this configuration as the Emitter Follower. It’s called a “follower” because it tracks the input voltage, offering …read more

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Posted in amplifier, common collector, emitter follower, follower, Hackaday Columns, how-to, transistor, transistor biasing | Leave a comment

VCF East: The Desktop ENIAC

The ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, is essentially the Great Great Grandfather of whatever device you’re currently reading these words on. Developed during World War II for what would be about $7 million USD today, it was designed to calculate artillery firing tables. Once word got out about its capabilities, it was also put to work on such heady tasks as assisting with John von Neumann’s research into the hydrogen bomb. The success of ENIAC lead directly into the development of EDVAC, which adopted some of the now standard computing concepts such as binary arithmetic and the idea …read more

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Posted in classic hacks, computing history, cons, emulation, eniac, Hackaday Columns, retrocomputing, VCF, VCF East, VCF East XIII | Leave a comment

Hackaday Belgrade 2018 is Sold Out: We Can’t Wait for Saturday

Greetings from beautiful Belgrade! With the Hackaday crew arriving over the last couple of days, preparations are in full swing, and the excitement is building for Hackaday Belgrade 2018 on Saturday. Here’s all the news you need to know.

If you haven’t gotten tickets yet, you can’t say we didn’t warn you! We’ve sold out. But don’t despair: there’s a waitlist, so get your name in now if you still want to get in.

  • The final conference schedule has just been released and it’s super.
  • We’re having a meetup Friday night at 20:00 at the Bajloni Bar and Beyond, join

…read more

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Posted in Belgrade, cons, Hackaday Belgrade, Hackaday Belgrade 2018, Hackaday Columns | Leave a comment

Mechanisms: Solenoids

Since humans first starting playing with electricity, we’ve proven ourselves pretty clever at finding ways to harness that power and turn it into motion. Electric motors of every type move the world, but they are far from the only way to put electricity into motion. When you want continuous rotation, a motor is the way to go. But for simpler on and off applications, where fine control of position is not critical, a solenoid is more like what you need. These electromagnetic devices are found everywhere and they’re next in our series on useful mechanisms.

A Coil and a Plunger

…read more

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Posted in coil, drive, electromagnet, Engineering, Hackaday Columns, Mechanisms, Original Art, plunger, rotary, shading, snubber, solenoid, spring | Leave a comment

Friday Hack Chat: Making Programming Easier

There is a long history of graphical programming languages. Some people don’t like to code, and for them, graphical programming languages replace semicolons and brackets with easy-to-understand boxes and wires.

This Friday, we’re going to be talking about graphical programming languages with [Boian Mitov]. He’s a software developer, founder of Mitov Software, and the creator of Visuino, a graphical programming language for the embedded domain. He specialized in video, audio, DSP, DAQ, industrial automation, communications, computer vision, artificial intelligence, as well as parallel and distributed computing. [Boian] is the author of the OpenWire open source technology, the IGDI+ open source …read more

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Posted in Hack Chat, Hackaday Columns, ide, programming, Visuino | Leave a comment

Robert Hall and the Solid-State Laser

The debt we all owe must be paid someday, and for inventor Robert N. Hall, that debt came due in 2016 at the ripe age of 96. Robert Hall’s passing went all but unnoticed by everyone but his family and a few close colleagues at General Electric’s Schenectady, New York research lab, where Hall spent his remarkable career.

That someone who lives for 96% of a century would outlive most of the people he had ever known is not surprising, but what’s more surprising is that more notice of his life and legacy wasn’t taken. Without his efforts, so many …read more

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Posted in Biography, diode, Engineering, general electric, germanium, Hackaday Columns, laser, Original Art, semiconductor, silicon, solid state | Leave a comment

Hands-On: Flying Drones with Scratch

I’ll admit it. I have a lot of drones. Sitting at my desk I can count no fewer than ten in various states of flight readiness. There are probably another half dozen in the garage. Some of them cost almost nothing. Some cost the better part of a thousand bucks. But I recently bought a drone for $100 that is both technically interesting and has great potential for motivating kids to learn about programming. The Tello is a small drone from a company you’ve never heard of (Ryze Tech), but it has DJI flight technology onboard and you can program …read more

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Posted in DJI, drone, drone hacks, Hackaday Columns, ryze technologies, scratch, Software Development, tello, uav | Leave a comment

Investigating the Tiny Salvaged UPS from a Lightbulb

Recently I had the opportunity to do a teardown of a battery-backed LED bulb, and found some interesting details on how the device operated. Essentially, the bulb contained a low voltage DC uninterruptible power supply that would automatically switch between AC power and internal battery as needed. The implications of this seemed pretty exciting. For around $12 at big box retailers, this little bulb could be a cheap and convenient solution for providing fault tolerant power to microcontrollers and other low-power devices.

The teardown was a runaway success, with quite a bit of discussion of the UPS idea specifically. Some …read more

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Posted in battery backup, Hackaday Columns, hardware, led hacks, load testing, microcontroller, ups, voltage regulator | Leave a comment

InSight Brings New Tech to Mars

Unless you’ve got your ear on the launch pad so to speak, you might not be aware that humanity just launched a new envoy towards the Red Planet. Estimated to touch down in Elysium Planitia on November 26th, the InSight lander is relatively low-key as far as interplanetary missions go. Part of the NASA’s “Discovery Program”, it operates on a considerably lower budget than Flagship missions such as the Curiosity rover; meaning niceties like a big advertising and social media campaign to get the public excited doesn’t get a line item.

Which is a shame, because not only are there …read more

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Posted in cubesat, Current Events, Hackaday Columns, InSight, jpl, mars, nasa, phoenix, space | Leave a comment

3D Printering: When an STL File is Not Quite Right

STL files are everywhere. When there’s something to 3D print, it’s probably going to be an STL. Which, as long as the model is good just as it is, is no trouble at all. But sooner or later there will be a model that isn’t quite right in some way and suddenly project progress hits a snag.

When models interface with other physical things, those other components may not always be exactly as the designer expected. Being mindful about such potential inconsistencies during the design phase can help prevent problems, but it’s not always avoidable. The reason it’s a problem …read more

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Posted in 3d builder, 3d Printer hacks, 3d printing, blender, cad, design, Hackaday Columns, ideamaker, modeling, openscad, Original Art, prototyping, stl, tinkercad, TWANG | Leave a comment